How To Acclimatise Quickly And Safely In Ladakh's High Altitudes

It is crucial to prioritise acclimatisation before starting the journey to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are some tips
Keep yourself at a pace that suits you
Keep yourself at a pace that suits youShutterstock

If you love travelling, Ladakh should indisputably make it to your bucket list of places to visit. When planning a trip to Ladakh, it's important to consider the high altitude of the region. Many places in Ladakh are situated above 10,000 feet, which can lead to acute mountain sickness (AMS) in visitors who are not accustomed to such elevations. Therefore, it is crucial to prioritise acclimatisation before starting the journey to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. So if you are planning a trek or a holiday in Ladakh, here are some valuable tips to bookmark.

About AMS

When traveling to high altitudes such as Ladakh, it's important to be aware of altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS). This condition can occur when ascending to high altitudes too quickly without giving the body time to adjust. It is caused by reduced oxygen levels and lower air pressure at higher elevations. Altitude sickness can manifest in various degrees of severity and can affect individuals of any age or physical fitness level. When travelling to high altitudes, consider the following advice for a safer and more enjoyable experience.

Go Slow

If possible, opt for walking instead of flying or driving to altitudes above 10,000 feet. If you do fly or drive, take it easy and avoid over-exertion for the first 24 hours. Additionally, limit your altitude gain to 1,000 feet per day and schedule rest days for every 3,000 feet gained. These simple precautions can greatly enhance your high-altitude experience.

Take it slow, do not be in a hurry to ascend
Take it slow, do not be in a hurry to ascendxerazed/Shutterstock

Sleep Low

The "climb high, sleep low" principle is a strategy for safe ascent to high altitude destinations. It involves ascending to a higher altitude during the day and then descending to sleep at a lower altitude. This helps in reducing the risk of altitude sickness. With this principle, climbers gradually expose their bodies to higher altitudes, allowing them to adapt to the altitude. As we climb higher, the air gets thinner and the oxygen levels fall to well below what people need to breathe easily. The body reacts by generating more red blood cells (RBCs) to deal with the oxygen demands at high altitudes. However, generating RBCs doesn't happen very quickly, which is why one needs to sleep low and acclimatise for the altitude.

Train Well

Preparing for high-altitude climbing requires a holistic approach that includes physical conditioning, mental fortitude, and skill development. To endure the rigorous conditions at high altitude, your body needs to be in peak physical condition. This involves engaging in regular cardio exercises such as running, swimming, cycling, and climbing to improve your aerobic capacity and stamina. Additionally, targeted strength training focusing on core muscles and legs is essential to prepare your body for the physical demands of mountain climbing. Incorporating flexibility exercises into your training regimen can also help reduce the risk of injuries, ensuring that you are fully prepared for the challenges of high-altitude climbing.

Stay Hydrated

At high altitude, it's crucial to be aware that your body loses water through breathing twice as quickly as it does at sea level. This, along with the increased need to urinate and the suppression of your thirst response, significantly raises the risk of dehydration. Therefore, maintaining proper hydration is not only essential for your overall well-being, but it can also enhance your blood oxygen levels, leading to a faster recovery from altitude sickness. Keep an eye on your urine output—it should be clear.

Drink enough water
Drink enough waterShutterstock

What You Eat Counts

When at high altitudes, it's important to be mindful of your digestion due to lower oxygen levels. Overeating can make you uncomfortable, especially while travelling on those winding mountain roads. And have a high cab, low salt diet. Research indicates that a diet rich in carbohydrates and low in salt can significantly facilitate adaptation to high-altitude hypoxic conditions.

Avoid These

When at high altitudes, it's crucial to steer clear of tobacco, alcohol, and depressant drugs such as barbiturates, tranquilisers, and sleeping pills. These substances can significantly reduce your ability to breathe properly during sleep, exacerbating your symptoms.

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